(1984, also called Galaga 3 in the U.S.) The third in the line of classic arcade shooters started by Galaxian. The player again controls a ship that fires bolts at endless (at least until level 255) swarms of insect-ships.

The cool feature of this game was the ability to capture mechanics from the swarm motherships and use them to your own advantage. One uses a beam weapon to pick you up just like in Galaga. However, if you shoot him in flight, he drops the beam, you pick it up, and then use it to capture enemy insects. Then they line up beside you and you can blast away with four or five or even SIX ships! This kicks much ass.

The bonus stages were about spelling bonus words by bouncing insects around with your bolts. Exciting and frenetic. Some stages scrolled backwards (with appropriate scary music) and had you defend yourself against waves of insects popping out of nowhere. These stages will kick your ass early and often until you memorize the start positions of the insects.

Overall, an overlooked masterpiece. Fire this one up in MAME.

It was 1984 and the arcade crash was well under way. Namco wanted a new space shooter, and decided that a new addition to the Galaxian/Galaga family would be a sure fire hit. Of course the name "GaPlus" did not have the recognition that they had originally hoped for, so they quickly changed the name to Galaga 3 (there was no Galaga 2 apparently). They even sent name change kits out to all operators who had already purchased machines. GaPlus was later followed up by Galaga '88, Galaxian3, and Attack Of The Zolgear.

The game

The general formula is same as it was for Galaxian and Galaga. You control a spaceship and you fire at rows of enemies at the top of the screen, but you are not confined to moving left and right, you can move anywhere in the bottom half of the screen (although I still just find myself moving left and right).

The bug like enemies will fire at you from above while moving back and forth. Individual ships (and groups of ships), will break away from the armada to make attack runs at your fighter. Most of the ships are killed with a single shot. Shooting some ships will earn you a tractor beam, which will allow you to pull several enemy ships towards you, so you can control them.

This title has the same basic enemies as Galaga, but they have been redesigned to look more like spaceships (and less like bugs).

Once every few levels you will get a "Challenging Stage" where ships will fly by in patterns, and you get to shoot at them in an attempt to spell out words. I am absolutely horrible at this, and have never successfully spelled any of the words at all. A lot of the other stages follow the standard Galaga pattern, but some are different, there are stages where you move forward through enemy territory, and other stages where the starfield behind you moves backwards (for some reason that really makes it difficult, even though nothing actually changes).

The Machine

GaPlus machines came in an upright dedicated cabinet that was similar in appearance to the cabinet used on the original Galaga.

These machines were black and were decorated with multi-color stripes, and sticker sideart that realistically drawn scene from the game. There were several different marquees made. The American GaPlus marquee had a blue "GaPlus" logo surrounded by a scary looking bee. The "World" version had a green "GaPlus" logo. Finally, many machines in the United States will be labeled Galaga 3 on the marquee, but will have "GaPlus" sideart and ROM chips (lots of lazy operators who didn't bother to install the whole name change kit, made these common). All Machines are decorated with red t-molding.

The control panel has a single 8-Way joystick mounted in the center, with fire buttons on either side. This panel was not decorated at all, it was simply black. The monitor bezel had a few game instructions on it, but was not overly decorated either. The game itself was displayed on a 19" Electrohome open frame monitor that was mounted vertically.

This title uses the same wiring harness as Galaga, and the two titles can be interchanged very easily, many other games (such as Dig Dug), use this same harness as well).

Where to play

GaPlus is not nearly as easy to locate as the original Galaga was. I recommend the MAME version because there were not any faithful ports done to any console systems (not that I am aware of).

You might want to consider adding GaPlus to your arcade game collection. It is a good choice, these are rather difficult to find, but are often cheaper than standard Galaga machines (there is less demand for these). The fact that it uses the standard Galaga wiring harness allows you to spend another $100 or so on a Galaga or Gallag boardset, which will give you both games in one, (Gallag was a bootleg version of Galaga, it was very common and surprisingly enough they were well constructed).

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